Administration

Meet our team of dedicated leaders, extraordinary educators and lovers of the arts.

Staff

PAUL ASHLEY
Executive Director

BENJAMIN BINGHAM
Operations Manager

NATALIE BONIFAY
Business Manager

MEGHAN BLAKEMAN
Development & Community Engagement Manager

JULIE CLARKE
Education Program Manager

JUSTIN DORO
Education Program Manager & Internship Coordinator

MATT FREEMAN
Education Director

EMILY GNAGEY
Director of Finance & Operations

JEFF PALMERE
Program Director, Extended Learning Time @ AMS

MARISSA PORTO
Director of Theatre Programs

NATE SAYATOVICH
Education Program Manager

NICOLE SCANDIFFIO
Associate Education Director, Afterschool Programs

LAURA LEE WILLIAMS
Associate Education Director, In-School Programs

Board of Directors

Board Chair

Caroline Abramo

Treasurer

Deb Goundrey

Secretary

Diana Davitadze

Gary Bernstein
Tracey Duffy
Emilie Gallagher
Deborah Novick
Cheryl Vollweiler

Gary Bernstein
Tracey Duffy
Emilie Gallagher
Deborah Novick
Cheryl Vollweiler

Advisory Board

Gregory Arata
Rebecca Ashley
Jessica Bashline
Seth Duerr
Pamela Frost
Stephen Girasuolo
Kim Grogg Marin
Jerry Korman
Amy Lehman
Gavin Lodge
Donna Murphy
Brooke Rogers
Vern Thiessen
Inna White
Scott Wilcox
Dawn Williams

Gregory Arata
Rebecca Ashley
Jessica Bashline
Seth Duerr
Pamela Frost
Stephen Girasuolo
Kim Grogg Marin
Jerry Korman
Amy Lehman
Gavin Lodge
Donna Murphy
Brooke Rogers
Vern Thiessen
Inna White
Scott Wilcox
Dawn Williams

Photo Credit to Vanessa Rosas Photography

PAUL ASHLEY
Executive Director

Paul Ashley has been a key member of Wingspan Arts’ growth as an arts education provider in the New York region since 2004. In his time with Wingspan, he has been involved as a Teaching Artist, Site Director, Director of Afterschool Programs and Education Director. Paul holds a B.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of Northern Colorado. Stage credits include Crazy For You (National Tour), Forever Plaid, The Donkey Show and Fringe Festival award-winning a cappella musical, Minimum Wage: Blue Code Ringo! He has attended Columbia’s Institute for Not-For-Profit Management and Harvard’s Executive Education course in Performance Measurement.

“Art isn’t easy.” - Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

PAUL ASHLEY
Executive Director

Paul Ashley has been a key member of Wingspan Arts’ growth as an arts education provider in the New York region since 2004. In his time with Wingspan, he has been involved as a Teaching Artist, Site Director, Director of Afterschool Programs and Education Director. Paul holds a B.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of Northern Colorado. Stage credits include Crazy For You (National Tour), Forever Plaid, The Donkey Show and Fringe Festival award-winning a cappella musical, Minimum Wage: Blue Code Ringo! He has attended Columbia’s Institute for Not-For-Profit Management and Harvard’s Executive Education course in Performance Measurement.

“Art isn’t easy.” - Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

BENJAMIN BINGHAM
Operations Manager

Originally from Baltimore, Ben joined Wingspan in July, 2015. He brings extensive operational experience to our team, having previously managed operations across a number of different industries, including artisan bread-making and digital marketing. He lives in Harlem, is a diehard Arsenal fan and his favorite restaurant in the city is Cafe Habana. He is a practicing musician with a passion for creating opportunities for others to experience and create art.

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for." - Robin Williams as John Keating (Dead Poet’s Society)

BENJAMIN BINGHAM
Operations Manager

Originally from Baltimore, Ben joined Wingspan in July, 2015. He brings extensive operational experience to our team, having previously managed operations across a number of different industries, including artisan bread-making and digital marketing. He lives in Harlem, is a diehard Arsenal fan and his favorite restaurant in the city is Cafe Habana. He is a practicing musician with a passion for creating opportunities for others to experience and create art.

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for." - Robin Williams as John Keating (Dead Poet’s Society)

NATALIE BONIFAY
Business Manager

Natalie is the Business Manager at Wingspan Arts. She is new to NYC but not to arts education. Before Wingspan, Natalie worked as a dance educator and actress at local theaters around Birmingham, Alabama, such as The Birmingham Children's Theatre and The Virginia Samford Theatre. She also toured with the National Theatre for Children out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Natalie also worked for three years as a Bookkeeper and office manager at a distribution company in Birmingham, called Astech. Natalie graduated with an MBA in Business Administration, BA in Business Finance, and a BFA in Musical Theater from the University of Montevallo in Alabama.

"Inside every performer is a beginner who fell in love." -Anonymous

NATALIE BONIFAY
Business Manager

Natalie is the Business Manager at Wingspan Arts. She is new to NYC but not to arts education. Before Wingspan, Natalie worked as a dance educator and actress at local theaters around Birmingham, Alabama, such as The Birmingham Children's Theatre and The Virginia Samford Theatre. She also toured with the National Theatre for Children out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Natalie also worked for three years as a Bookkeeper and office manager at a distribution company in Birmingham, called Astech. Natalie graduated with an MBA in Business Administration, BA in Business Finance, and a BFA in Musical Theater from the University of Montevallo in Alabama.

"Inside every performer is a beginner who fell in love." -Anonymous

MEGHAN BLAKEMAN
Development & Community Engagement Manager

Meghan oversees all Development and Engagement operations, including grants and fundraising, special events, and digital media initiatives. Meghan has proudly been with Wingspan for many years, previously serving on the Education team as a Site Director, Teaching Artist, and then a Program Manager. Meghan attended the University of New Hampshire where she received her B.A. in Theatre (Secondary Theatre Education and Acting). She has always prioritized arts learning, spending 10+ years as an educator before stepping into this Development role. She also successfully operated a classical theatre company for 6 years, and steps on stage whenever given the opportunity. Meghan is looking forward to engaging the Wingspan Arts community.

“If you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world.” - Amy Poehler, Yes Please

MEGHAN BLAKEMAN
Development & Community Engagement Manager

Meghan oversees all Development and Engagement operations, including grants and fundraising, special events, and digital media initiatives. Meghan has proudly been with Wingspan for many years, previously serving on the Education team as a Site Director, Teaching Artist, and then a Program Manager. Meghan attended the University of New Hampshire where she received her B.A. in Theatre (Secondary Theatre Education and Acting). She has always prioritized arts learning, spending 10+ years as an educator before stepping into this Development role. She also successfully operated a classical theatre company for 6 years, and steps on stage whenever given the opportunity. Meghan is looking forward to engaging the Wingspan Arts community.

“If you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world.” - Amy Poehler, Yes Please

JULIE CLARKE
Education Program Manager

Julie joins Wingspan as a Program Manager after spending one year as a Site Director at PS 340. Before coming to Wingspan Julie worked as a classroom educator and has taught theatre in schools/ after school and camp programs. Back in Massachusetts Julie taught middle and elementary school both in theatre and special education. She holds a BA from Hofstra University in Theatre Arts and Speech Communication and an MA from Emerson College in Theatre Education. Julie's experience in theatre varies from acting, directing, and stage managing she especially enjoys playmaking with elementary and middle school youth!

“You're off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so... get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss

JULIE CLARKE
Education Program Manager

Julie joins Wingspan as a Program Manager after spending one year as a Site Director at PS 340. Before coming to Wingspan Julie worked as a classroom educator and has taught theatre in schools/ after school and camp programs. Back in Massachusetts Julie taught middle and elementary school both in theatre and special education. She holds a BA from Hofstra University in Theatre Arts and Speech Communication and an MA from Emerson College in Theatre Education. Julie's experience in theatre varies from acting, directing, and stage managing she especially enjoys playmaking with elementary and middle school youth!

“You're off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so... get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss

JUSTIN DORO
Education Program Manager & Internship Coordinator

Justin Antonio Doro holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Piedmont College. After performing and teaching with multiple Children's Theatres around the country, he made his way to New York City and discovered the magic of Wingspan Arts. Justin has worn many hats with Wingspan since 2014: Teaching Artist, Site Director, Education Program Coordinator and most recently, Education Program Manager. He is also the Internship Coordinator during the Spring semester and partners with The New School and Community Word Project to train incoming professionals in the field of teaching artistry. Justin believes that the arts have the power to change the world, his own life as a prime example, and he hopes to use that power to impact as many youth around the world as he can.

"I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities." Dr. Seuss

JUSTIN DORO
Education Program Manager & Internship Coordinator

Justin Antonio Doro holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Piedmont College. After performing and teaching with multiple Children's Theatres around the country, he made his way to New York City and discovered the magic of Wingspan Arts. Justin has worn many hats with Wingspan since 2014: Teaching Artist, Site Director, Education Program Coordinator and most recently, Education Program Manager. He is also the Internship Coordinator during the Spring semester and partners with The New School and Community Word Project to train incoming professionals in the field of teaching artistry. Justin believes that the arts have the power to change the world, his own life as a prime example, and he hopes to use that power to impact as many youth around the world as he can.

"I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities." Dr. Seuss

MATT FREEMAN
Education Director

Matt Freeman has worked with Wingspan Arts since August 2016. Previously he worked with organizations such as Tectonic Theater Project (inaugural Education Director), Brooklyn Academy of Music, The New Victory Theater, New York Cares, The New York City Arts-in-Education Roundtable and The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS), where he served as the first Assistant Director of its M.A. in Applied Theatre. Matt holds a B.A. in Theater and Arts Administration from Muhlenberg College, an M.A. in Arts Administration from Teachers College at Columbia University and an M.A. in Applied Theatre from CUNY SPS.

"Stop worrying where you're going, move on. If you can know where you're going, you've gone. Just keep moving on." Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

MATT FREEMAN
Education Director

Matt Freeman has worked with Wingspan Arts since August 2016. Previously he worked with organizations such as Tectonic Theater Project (inaugural Education Director), Brooklyn Academy of Music, The New Victory Theater, New York Cares, The New York City Arts-in-Education Roundtable and The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS), where he served as the first Assistant Director of its M.A. in Applied Theatre. Matt holds a B.A. in Theater and Arts Administration from Muhlenberg College, an M.A. in Arts Administration from Teachers College at Columbia University and an M.A. in Applied Theatre from CUNY SPS.

"Stop worrying where you're going, move on. If you can know where you're going, you've gone. Just keep moving on." Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

EMILY GNAGEY
Director of Finance & Operations

Emily oversees our financial and operational management. Since joining the Wingspan team in 2009, Emily’s experience in developing and implementing business management strategies has proven instrumental for our growth. Before joining Wingspan, Emily founded Ever After Productions, a youth theater company in southeastern Michigan that has been making integrated arts education available to the community since 2003. Emily holds a B.A. in Arts Management from Eastern Michigan University and graduated from the Americans for the Arts Arts Leadership Institute in 2012.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” - Pablo Picasso

EMILY GNAGEY
Director of Finance & Operations

Emily oversees our financial and operational management. Since joining the Wingspan team in 2009, Emily’s experience in developing and implementing business management strategies has proven instrumental for our growth. Before joining Wingspan, Emily founded Ever After Productions, a youth theater company in southeastern Michigan that has been making integrated arts education available to the community since 2003. Emily holds a B.A. in Arts Management from Eastern Michigan University and graduated from the Americans for the Arts Arts Leadership Institute in 2012.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” - Pablo Picasso

JEFF PALMERE
Program Director, Extended Learning Time @ AMS

Jeff currently serves as the Program Director for the Extending Learning Time program at the Urban Assembly for Math and Sciences. Prior to this position, Jeff was a Site Director in our afterschool programs for 2 years. He holds a B.A. Political Science from the University at Albany. Jeff has been a Stepper and Choreographer for the past 13 Years, and he created the Organized C.H.A.O.S. Step Team.

"Experiencing art is like experiencing rain. It's not as fun when it's only drizzling. You look for the downpour, because that's where you find happiness." - Jeff Palmere

JEFF PALMERE
Program Director, Extended Learning Time @ AMS

Jeff currently serves as the Program Director for the Extending Learning Time program at the Urban Assembly for Math and Sciences. Prior to this position, Jeff was a Site Director in our afterschool programs for 2 years. He holds a B.A. Political Science from the University at Albany. Jeff has been a Stepper and Choreographer for the past 13 Years, and he created the Organized C.H.A.O.S. Step Team.

"Experiencing art is like experiencing rain. It's not as fun when it's only drizzling. You look for the downpour, because that's where you find happiness." - Jeff Palmere

MARISSA PORTO
Director of Theatre Programs

Marissa holds a B.S. in Theatre from Skidmore College and a M.Ed. in Educational Theatre from The City College of New York. She began her career in theater as a performer, which she still does on occasion. Her favorite roles include Alice in The Drowning Girls, Pennywise in Urinetown, and Karen in American Notes. Right after graduating from Skidmore in 2006, she moved back to NY to pursue a career in theater. She was mostly just waiting tables, however, and was getting frustrated that her life did not include any creative outlet so she looked for an internship that would provide her something more fulfilling. She found a listing for an internship at a place called Wingspan Arts, applied, and was hired. Within months, she was a full-time employee and realized that her career needed to be in arts education. In her time at Wingspan Arts she has been a Payroll Administrator, a Site Director (PS183), Conservatory Associate, Associate Artistic Director, and finally Director of Theatre Programs! Marissa has directed over 15 productions with Wingspan Arts and is looking forward to many more. Wingspan Arts has truly become Marissa's second home and has been integral in her career and personal growth.

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

MARISSA PORTO
Director of Theatre Programs

Marissa holds a B.S. in Theatre from Skidmore College and a M.Ed. in Educational Theatre from The City College of New York. She began her career in theater as a performer, which she still does on occasion. Her favorite roles include Alice in The Drowning Girls, Pennywise in Urinetown, and Karen in American Notes. Right after graduating from Skidmore in 2006, she moved back to NY to pursue a career in theater. She was mostly just waiting tables, however, and was getting frustrated that her life did not include any creative outlet so she looked for an internship that would provide her something more fulfilling. She found a listing for an internship at a place called Wingspan Arts, applied, and was hired. Within months, she was a full-time employee and realized that her career needed to be in arts education. In her time at Wingspan Arts she has been a Payroll Administrator, a Site Director (PS183), Conservatory Associate, Associate Artistic Director, and finally Director of Theatre Programs! Marissa has directed over 15 productions with Wingspan Arts and is looking forward to many more. Wingspan Arts has truly become Marissa's second home and has been integral in her career and personal growth.

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

NATE SAYATOVICH
Education Program Manager

Nate Sayatovich is a Director, Producer and Theatre Educator based in New York City. Previously he served as a Program Manager and Education Associate at the Tony Award Winning Cleveland Play House. Nate is one of the founding Artistic Directors of Ohio Youth Ensemble Stage, and the former Associate Artistic Director of Medina Youth Theatre. He holds a B.S in Theatre Education Pre K-12 from Ashland University and has presented at both the American Alliance for Theatre Education and Educational Theatre Associations National Conferences.

“I thank God I became an artist, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life." - Viola Davis

NATE SAYATOVICH
Education Program Manager

Nate Sayatovich is a Director, Producer and Theatre Educator based in New York City. Previously he served as a Program Manager and Education Associate at the Tony Award Winning Cleveland Play House. Nate is one of the founding Artistic Directors of Ohio Youth Ensemble Stage, and the former Associate Artistic Director of Medina Youth Theatre. He holds a B.S in Theatre Education Pre K-12 from Ashland University and has presented at both the American Alliance for Theatre Education and Educational Theatre Associations National Conferences.

“I thank God I became an artist, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life." - Viola Davis

NICOLE SCANDIFFIO
Associate Education Director, Afterschool Programs

Nicole joined the Wingspan Family in 2009 and has since worked as a Teaching Artist, Site Director, and is currently the Associate Education Director for Afterschool Programs. She also works with Wingspan Arts as the Assistant Director of the Summer Conservatory program. Before her time with Wingspan Arts, Nicole graduated from Montclair State University with a B.A. in Theatre Studies, was a Stage Manager and Pre-school teacher. Outside of Wingspan Arts, Nicole is an avid Disney and Harry Potter nerd, and spends her time crafting, cosplaying and hanging out with her cat.

"Think of the happiest things, it's the same as having wings." - Peter Pan

NICOLE SCANDIFFIO
Associate Education Director, Afterschool Programs

Nicole joined the Wingspan Family in 2009 and has since worked as a Teaching Artist, Site Director, and is currently the Associate Education Director for Afterschool Programs. She also works with Wingspan Arts as the Assistant Director of the Summer Conservatory program. Before her time with Wingspan Arts, Nicole graduated from Montclair State University with a B.A. in Theatre Studies, was a Stage Manager and Pre-school teacher. Outside of Wingspan Arts, Nicole is an avid Disney and Harry Potter nerd, and spends her time crafting, cosplaying and hanging out with her cat.

"Think of the happiest things, it's the same as having wings." - Peter Pan

LAURA LEE WILLIAMS
Associate Education Director, In-School Programs

Laura has been on the Wingspan Arts Education Team since 2010. In her current position, she oversees Wingspan Arts’ In-school Programs and serves as the primary liaison for school partners. Laura also works with the Wingspan Arts’ in-school teaching artist roster to ensure quality arts instruction and curriculum design, as well as positive student engagement and inclusive teaching practices. With a background in theatre and music performance, Laura began her career in arts education as a teaching artist in New York City. Working with several arts and community-based organizations, Laura focused on creating original work through process drama with elementary school students. She also facilitated ELA, Social Studies, and SEL Theatre Arts integration programs. Laura's outreach work includes developing teaching artist training and professional development seminars for artist educators. Laura holds a BA in Performing Arts from Iowa State University, an MA in Educational Theatre from The Steinhardt School of Education at New York University, and has completed the TATI (Teaching Artist Training Internship) program through Marquis Studios, focused on best practices for teaching the arts to children on the Autism Spectrum. Laura and her husband, Brian, reside in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with their two little boys, Lee and Curtis...and a cat named Lucy.

"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" - Dr. Seuss

LAURA LEE WILLIAMS
Associate Education Director, In-School Programs

Laura has been on the Wingspan Arts Education Team since 2010. In her current position, she oversees Wingspan Arts’ In-school Programs and serves as the primary liaison for school partners. Laura also works with the Wingspan Arts’ in-school teaching artist roster to ensure quality arts instruction and curriculum design, as well as positive student engagement and inclusive teaching practices. With a background in theatre and music performance, Laura began her career in arts education as a teaching artist in New York City. Working with several arts and community-based organizations, Laura focused on creating original work through process drama with elementary school students. She also facilitated ELA, Social Studies, and SEL Theatre Arts integration programs. Laura's outreach work includes developing teaching artist training and professional development seminars for artist educators. Laura holds a BA in Performing Arts from Iowa State University, an MA in Educational Theatre from The Steinhardt School of Education at New York University, and has completed the TATI (Teaching Artist Training Internship) program through Marquis Studios, focused on best practices for teaching the arts to children on the Autism Spectrum. Laura and her husband, Brian, reside in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with their two little boys, Lee and Curtis...and a cat named Lucy.

"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" - Dr. Seuss